Bishops in England, Wales and Scotland have lamented the loss of unborn life in a joint statement to mark the 50th anniversary of the Abortion Act.
The message describes every abortion as a “tragedy” and calls for “a change of minds and hearts about the good of the child in the womb and the care of mothers who are pregnant.”
More than eight million unborn children have been aborted in England, Wales and Scotland since Royal Assent was given to Lord David Steel’s private member’s bill on October 27th 1967.
Jointly signed by the President of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, and Archbishop Philip Tartaglia, President of the Scottish Bishops’ Conference, the statement asks Catholics to pray and fast for the protection of human life in the womb.
The bishops challenge society’s language of “choice” which they say has come to mean “doing whatever I feel to be right for me – a very subjective view of the good – rather than taking into account a wider set of fundamental values.”
“In the case of abortion,” the bishops say, “decisions and choices need to acknowledge the duty to cherish human life and to foster its flourishing beyond the circumstances of any one person, however challenging these may be.”
The 2,000 word document acknowledges the complex set of conditions that a woman considering an abortion finds herself in, factors which can “limit the exercise of freedom and diminish moral culpability.” Quoting Pope John Paul II, the bishops encourage those who have been involved in abortion to seek the forgiveness of God in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
The bishops express their concern about the lack of protection for unborn children with disabilities, as well as the erosion of respect for healthcare professionals who have a conscientious objection to abortion.
There is an urgent need, the bishops say, for parents and educators to teach about the inviolability of human life, from conception to its natural end.
“We thank those generous young people who strive to promote pro-life values,” the statement adds. “They are a real encouragement and inspiration, in the Church and in society.”
(Richard Paul Marsden) Vatican Radio